Final battle to liberate last Islamic State village begins after civilians evacuated

Final battle to liberate last Islamic State village begins after civilians evacuated

Final battle to liberate last Islamic State village begins after civilians evacuated

Many of those fleeing, almost all of them women and children, were being taken into custody by the SDF.

From a self-proclaimed caliphate that once stretched over large areas of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State has been reduced to a tiny speck of land in the village of Baghouz. The SDF says the jihadist group has now been contained to an area of less than half a square kilometre. It was not clear when the people had been killed.

The SDF has previously said numerous jihadists left in Baghouz are foreign fighters who traveled from around the world to join IS after its leader declared a modern-day caliphate in 2014 over large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq.

More civilians were evacuated from the last territory held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group in eastern Syria Friday, amid a warning by the United Nations about the plight of thousands who have fled the area in recent weeks.

Some 40,000 people have crossed out of the jihadists' diminishing territory in the last three months as the SDF sought to drive it from the remaining territory. An SDF commander told Reuters on Thursday that numerous people leaving the enclave had been sheltering underground in caves and tunnels.

Kobani tweeted that the "operation to clear the last remaining pocket of ISIS has just started at 18:00 this evening", then explained in Arabic how "after our forces completed the evacuation of civilians from Al-Baghouz, the liberation of our fighters who were abducted by ISIS, only the terrorists remain in Al-Baghouz, so our forces began to move in militarily and engage with terrorists to complete the liberation once and for all".

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"The overflow during the lull in battle has been hard for the SDF and they have responded to everything well", said coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan.

Earlier this month, the White House partially reversed itself and said around 400 USA troops would stay.

Earlier on Thursday, the SDF said it had freed dozens of its fighters who had been held captive by IS in its stronghold near the Iraqi border.

The SDF has said several hundred jihadists are believed to be holed up in Baghouz, a cluster of hamlets surrounded by farmland on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Bali said the final batch of civilians had been evacuated from Baghouz on Friday ahead of renewed military activity.

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